A Sense of Entitlement
See if you can tell what’s wrong with this story:
Girl applies to Duke University.
Girl is rejected by Duke University.
Girl doesn’t "accept" Duke’s decision, writing a letter "rejecting" the University’s rejection.
Girl uses social media to make letter go viral.
Media, incomprehensibly, runs with the story.
Duke responds and holds firm, but with a wimpy, politically correct answer.
Girl pouts about how much "power" universities have over students.
Millennial generation, and their coddlers, applaud girl as "hero," and letter as brilliant.
Given that the Millennials are the leaders of tomorrow, only one thought comes to mind: God help us.
First things first. To all the Millennials who think they’re God’s gift to America, and their adult enablers who encourage that generation’s entitlement mentality through constant coddling, bring on the hate mail. We can see it now: The big, bad columnist beating up on a 17-year-old just trying to make her way in the world, as he criticizes an entire generation with sweeping generalizations.
Good. Someone certainly has to, because the Millennials need a good, swift kick in the derriere to bring them back to planet Earth and that pesky thing called The Real World.
Let’s take a look at the situation involving this high school senior:
1.) Her Tumblr bio says a lot: "I’m … and there’s not a boy on this Earth worthy of me." Wonderful! With that attitude, she will no doubt have an illustrious dating career. Confidence is one thing, but sheer arrogance is quite another, something the Millennials (those born between the early 1980s and 2000) have not come close to understanding.
But that arrogance comes with an ironic twist. For the most part, the Millennials are not confident at all. Quite the opposite, they are extremely risk-averse and thin-skinned, getting hurt feelings whenever something doesn’t go their way, and "offended" by everything — a complex fueled by a woefully misguided sense of entitlement.
Sure, they are a product of their environment — helicopter parents hovering over their every move in a fairy tale attempt to sanitize everything. But like every generation before them, they have to be accountable for their own actions. Instead, they continue to reject that rite of passage.
2.) As everyone knows, Duke is an elite university, accepting just 12 percent of students. The student was rejected. Fine. Join the club. But if you’re going to call the university on the carpet and insist it made a mistake, you had better have your ducks in order. There’s an old saying that arrogance isn’t arrogance if you can back it up, but in this case, she fell far short. Let’s take a look at, and correct, parts of her letter:
"This year I have been fortunate enough to receive rejection letters from the best and brightest universities in the country. With a pool of letters so diverse and accomplished I was unable to accept reject letters I would have been able to only several years ago…. despite Duke’s outstanding success in rejecting previous applicants, you simply did not meet my qualifications. Therefore, I will be attending Duke University’s 2015 freshmen class."
The student’s appalling use of grammar unwittingly validated Duke’s decision. It’s common sense that, if you’re serious about Duke reconsidering its decision, you sure as hell better not send a poorly written letter. Duke picks the cream of the crop, so if you’re going to broadcast to the world that the Blue Devils made a mistake, you need to be perfect making your case. She wasn’t:
A.) Universities are not "bright;" people are.
B.) Letters cannot be "accomplished." (And a comma is needed after "accomplished.")
C.) The rest of that sentence is not just poorly written, but completely unintelligible. If people wonder what you’re trying to communicate, you’ve already lost.
D.) A university isn’t "successful" when it rejects applicants. And the remainder of that sentence is indecipherable (why would an applicant have qualifications for being rejected?)
E.) Finally, students don’t "attend" the Class of 2015; they become part of it.
Is that nitpicking? Was this all just in jest? Are we taking this too far? No.
Americans, especially students, have become horrendous communicators. Part of that is due to our failing educational system, and partly because Millennials rely on technology so much that their social and communication skills are virtually nonexistent. And if we don’t correct it at age 17, then when? At 21? When they enter the job market? And why did the media, and Duke, give this student a free pass on her grammatical errors? When her letter went "viral," making worldwide headlines and being reposted over 100,000 times, it landed in the public square. You can’t have it both ways: basking in the attention, but not taking responsibility for shabby work. Grade: F.
3.) Duke’s response also went viral. To the university’s credit, it told the girl she could appeal, but overturned rejections were rare. Fine.
But then it bowed to political correctness, playing right into the very problem Millennials have: their constant need to be stroked. The Duke letter stated, "Please know that our decision was not a judgment of you as a student or a person, but a reflection of our limited space and talented applicant pool."
Sorry, Duke, but you got that one wrong. Of course rejecting applicants is based on who they are as students and people! There are no other criteria on which to judge! And that’s perfectly fine. It doesn’t mean rejected students are bad people or unaccomplished, but that they simply didn’t make the cut.
The student, in an email to the Huffington Post, wrote, "I just realized how much power these universities seem to have over students … Their word is the end-all, be-all. But what if it wasn’t? What if I treated them like they treated me?"
What does that even mean? Should every university, sports team and employer accept everyone who applies simply because rejecting people is exercising "power" over them? And how exactly did Duke "treat" her that merits that response? They simply said she, along with 88 percent of other applicants, didn’t make the cut. Deal with it. And if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
That’s the real world, and rejections are a big part of life. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Walt Disney was fired because he had "no good ideas and lacked imagination." Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates — the list of those who faced difficult rejections but bounced back to find success is infinite.
Of course being rejected stings! It’s supposed to. What sets the Millennials apart is that they wallow in self-pity, believing they are entitled to success without doing the heavy lifting required to achieve it. What they should be doing is learning from their failures and using them as motivation to improve themselves and ultimately, prove their detractors wrong.
But that’s not happening. And until it does, the Millennial generation will keep doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. As Einstein, who failed many times, said, that’s the definition of insanity.
Would the next generation please stand up?
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator. His print column appears every Wednesday. He can be reached at [email protected]